This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007
Edward Norman (Ted) Kruger (1897-1987) and PERCY JOHN (1905-1989), saw-millers and racehorse-breeders, were born on 10 October 1897 and 28 March 1905 at Mutdapilly, Queensland, sixth and tenth of the thirteen children of German-born parents Carl August Kruger, blacksmith and farmer, and his wife Elizabeth, née Hertrich. In 1912 the family moved to Bundamba, Ipswich, and Carl worked as a `colliery carpenter’. Ted completed his education at Mount Forbes State School and was briefly a miner; Percy attended both Mount Forbes and Bundamba state schools.
Ted, and later Perc, joined their father in a handle-manufacturing business, registered in 1924 as C. A. Kruger & Son Pty Ltd. Ted had designed the prototype of an axe-handle. The firm eventually became the biggest producer of wooden handles for tools in Australia, with Slash as the brand name and `we’ll handle you right’ as its slogan. It also developed as a sawmilling enterprise with its own leases in timber reserves. From 1927 Ted was manager; several brothers and other relations were involved in the business, which struggled for capital until Carl won £6000 in a Golden Casket art union shortly before his death in 1933. On 20 April 1929 at St Mary’s Catholic Church, Ipswich, Ted had married Catherine Ellen Tobin (d.1985), a typist, and on 3 February 1934 at St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Ipswich, Percy married Olive Sloan, a weaver. They and other family members were to live in the Bundamba-Booval area of Ipswich for most of their lives. By 1947-48 the Kruger firm was one of the main hardwood processors in Queensland. Percy later became joint-manager.
The two brothers took up horse-breeding as their main recreation. Although horses were often registered in the name `E. N. and P. J. Kruger’, Percy mostly led the racing initiatives. Founding the City View stud at Bundamba about 1944, the Krugers were long-standing committeemen of the Ipswich Amateur Turf Club. They bought Lyndhurst, near Warwick, from the McDougall [q.v.10] family, and moved their stock there in March 1956. The Krugers intensively redeveloped the property, installing a large irrigation system and constructing new buildings and other appointments. Percy’s enthusiasm for Stardust blood led them to buy the imported stallion Smokey Eyes (a paternal half-brother of Star Kingdom) in 1958 from T. J. Macknamara of Victoria, just before his progeny began to prove their worth. According to Australian Bloodhorse Review, Smokey Eyes (d.1973) was reputedly `the most prolific sire of winners in world bloodstock history’, his stock winning about three thousand races. He was champion stallion of Australia in terms of races won by his offspring for twelve consecutive seasons (1961/62-1972/73). His best Queensland progeny included Eye Liner (winner of the 1965 Australian Jockey Club’s Champagne Stakes), Charlton Boy (winner of the 1974 Doomben Ten Thousand) and Intrepid Clipper, who, when owned by Alfred Grant [q.v.], won the Queensland Derby in 1969.
The Krugers increasingly kept their best fillies, including Eye Liner, for breeding after racing. Percy raced two of the four Queensland Oaks winners sired by Smokey Eyes, and an Oaks-winning granddaughter. Smokey Eyes’ daughters foaled many winners to later Lyndhurst sires such as Lysander II, Hail to Success, Grand Chaudiere, Head over Heels, and Celestial Dancer. Both brothers were often committee-men of the Bloodhorse Breeders’ Association of Australia, Queensland division; Percy was president in 1968-70.
On 31 October 1975 the brothers sold the mill site to accommodate a relocated Ipswich technical college. They began a substantial separation of their interests: broadly, Ted took the timber and manufacturing interests, Percy and his son Merrell the Lyndhurst stud. Percy continued to live at Ipswich. Reluctant to close a business with about 140 employees, Ted doggedly negotiated its progressive transfer to a 12-ha site at Dinmore, Ipswich. In November 1981 Besser (Qld) Ltd acquired the firm, then called Kruger Enterprises, and Ted retired from the managing directorship.
In group photographs the Krugers stand suited and wearing `pork-pie’ hats, Percy smiling and a little more nuggety, Ted rather more serious. Ted was keen on tennis, bowls and football, and active in local community organisations; he was named Ipswich Citizen of the Year in 1979. Survived by a daughter, he died on 14 July 1987 at Ipswich and was buried in Warrill Park lawn cemetery. Percy died on 14 September 1989 at Warwick and was cremated. His wife and their son survived him; a daughter had predeceased him.
S. J. Routh, 'Kruger, Edward Norman (Ted) (1897–1987)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/kruger-edward-norman-ted-12759/text23013, published in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 26 July 2014.
This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007